An Inside Look: Whitney Young Jr.

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At this week’s BMI meeting, Dr. Marcia Cantarella showcased the story of her father Whitney Young Jr. during his fight in the civil right movement. BMI members got an exclusive inside look into the new film The Power BrokerWhitney Young Jr., the advisor, insider, leader, pragmatist, negotiator, strategist, former President of the National Urban League, and civil rights leader, was the ultimate power broker. Considered one of the “BIG 6”, Whitney Young worked hand and hand with a coalition of African American leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, and Roy Wilkins. Prior to Whitney Young, African Americans had no access into corporate America. Young’s approach to the civil rights movement erased a blank slate that African Americans once faced. Up until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, African Americans would graduate from high school and college with dreams left deferred like a raisin in the sun, due to the limited access and inequality they faced. The power broker Whitney Young was responsible for the gap that has been bridged between corporate America and at the time, an untapped source of African American workers in corporate America. He understood the importance of education and its link to prepare African American’s for work on a corporate level. Whitney Young executed the brilliant sequence and strategy behind a racial transformation that tapped into America becoming a greater power. He gained insider access into the giants of corporate America like Henry Ford of the Ford Motor company and the Rockefeller family. Young was able to convinced corporate America that integration was truthfully good for business.

Whitney Young became a trusted friend and advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson, mainly due to his practical abilities and ideas that eventually made President Johnson a valuable asset to the civil rights movement. Young’s idea was to implement something along the nature of a domestic Marshall Plan, which he expressed in detail in his book: To Be Equal. The book formatted in detail a way to combat poverty and rebuild America in a way that would call minorities into the professional field and do more than just address the social welfare of Black and poor Americans. President Johnson and Whitney Young were able to successfully recreate America by utilizing both of their ideas for a better, more productive America. President Nixon once stated “Whitney Young’s genius was he knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for”.

Whitney Young’s vision and ideals was not just for African Americans. His vision stretched to all people no matter of skin color. Although, the fight for equality still continues, thanks to Whitney Young, all Americans have shared a tremendous amount of progress. It’s important to keep Whitney Young’s legacy alive and transform his ideals of leadership into this current age.

Go see Whitney Young Jr.’s new film: The Power Broker.

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